Shetland Sheepdogs

Shetland Sheepdogs

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Breed Notes:

The Shetland Sheepdog, or Sheltie, is a small version of the Collie. He originated on the Shetland Islands where scarcity of food favored small animals. He was introduced into England in the late 1800s and was recognized by the English Kennel Club in 1909 as Shetland Collies and in 1914 as Shetland Sheepdogs. The first dog of the breed was registered with the American Kennel Club in 1911.
Despite his small size, the Shetland Sheepdog is a wonderful sheepdog. It works keenly and enthusiastically, nipping the heels of the sheep to move them along. Because of his intelligence and willingness to obey, he is an excellent obedience dog. He is gentle and makes a good playmate for children but he needs plenty of exercise.
The body of the Sheltie resembles a rough-coated Collie. The head is long and v-shaped with very little drop off between the skull and muzzle. The muzzle is long, straight and equal in length to the skull. The bite is scissors. The nose is black. Eyes are of medium size, almond-shaped and dark in color except for blue eyes being acceptable in dogs with blue merle coats. The ears are button type and set high. They bend forward at three-quarters of their length from the head. The chest is deep, extending down to the point of the elbow. The back is short, straight and level. The legs are straight and muscular with strong bone. The trotting gait denotes effortless speed and smoothness. and should tend toward a single track as their speed increases. The tail is long enough to reach the top of the hock with long coat furnishings that may reach to the ground. The Sheltie has a double coat with a soft, dense under coat and an outer coat that is long, straight and rough. There should be abundant mane and featherings on the legs (except on the hocks) and tail. Coat color is black, blue merle, tricolor or sable with markings of white and tan. Average height at the withers is between thirteen and sixteen inches while average weight is twenty pounds. of U.S. writes:

Beautiful and sweet dogs.
First off I would like to say that Shetland Sheepdogs are not miniature Collies as many people think. They are a completely different breed. I love Shelties and I will always love having them around. The bad points of Shelties are: They like to bark. A LOT. Many owners choose to debark their Shelties, so they can bark as much as they want without getting yelled at or disturbing others. They really don't seem to know the difference. They can be clingy (though some Sheltie owners consider this a good trait), especially males. They are a one-family dog, they are wary and most take a while to get used to strangers. They are extremely affectionate and loving protectors for their family, though. They need to be socialized with people and dogs early in life. Many Shelties are shy by nature, and need quite a bit of socializing so they can become friendly, outgoing adults. They shed, a lot! Some Shelties don't shed as badly as others during most of the year, but all Shelties "blow" their coats once or twice a year, and during this time, brush, brush, brush! Some puppies will nip at the heels of running children in an attempt to "herd" them. They usually grow out of this. They have caught the attention of backyard breeders and puppymills so you have to take a lot of time to find a responsible breeder, just like with any other breed. NEVER buy a Sheltie from a pet store. Those are unhealthy, unsocialized puppymill puppies. "Rescuing" one from a pet store just tells the puppymill owners that they need to breed more unhealthy dogs in horrible conditions because people are still buying.
The good points (I think they outweigh the bad points, just with their personality!): They have a wonderful, loving personality. They are very affectionate. They look as sweet as they are. And they come in many colors, with beautiful full coats. They are generally good with other animals and children. You can do a lot of fun events with them. They are great at agility, obedience, conformation, herding, "dog dancing" and everything in between. They are great cuddlers. They seem to have an uncanny ability to sense what you are feeling. If you are feeling sick, you hear pitter-patter, pitter-patter and then you are greeted by a sweet Sheltie face coming to comfort you. If you are happy, they are bouncing for joy. They are generally easy to housetrain, they are very smart. They learn tricks quickly also. Shelties are great dogs, enough said. They sure do steal your heart. of Chicago, IL writes:

Wonderful little dogs, but choose wisely.
Having had Shelties since childhood, and currently mom to one terrific "little man," I can tell you they are wonderful little dogs. IF you choose wisely.
A Sheltie from a good, reputable breeder, that is raised properly, is one of the best companions you could ask for. Smart, small, clean and brimming with personality, a Sheltie will do anything you ask it or train it to do. They are extremely loyal and intelligent. They think they are little people and act like it too. Although not always friendly with strangers (they can be shy) they will love their person/people with every ounce of their little hearts. You MUST spend time with a Sheltie and train it or it will inevitably find its own "job" even if that means barking at every sound to "herd" it away or chewing holes in whatever it finds.
Research very carefully the breeder you get your Sheltie from. Along with health problems, poorly bred Shelties can be hyperactive, neurotic, yippy, and even aggressive, to name a few problems. The popularity of the breed and puppymills have created some dogs that are true Shelties only in appearance but not in personality.

Name withheld by request of Eastlake, OH writes:

The prettiest dogs.
I love Shetland Sheepdogs, they are the best breed. They are so intelligent and bold. I have a three-year-old black, brown and white one. I believe they are hard to give baths, but awesome pets. I got mine off a farm, the lady told me I'd enjoy this one and I do. He's so funny, it's like he talks! of Vermont writes:

A great, but slightly quirky, dog.
I have a two-and-one-half-year-old blue merle Sheltie. She is one of the great joys of my life. A great dog, very playful, and VERY smart. I've never had a dog who learned things so quickly, and she understands so much of what I say (I know this, because she responds appropriately to what I say, regardless (for the most part) of the tone in which I say it). She can be affectionate, and she also has moments when she just wants to be left alone and have "her time," for which I can't say I blame her. The most annoying thing about her is that she barks so much! Also, she totally fits the stereotypical image of a Sheltie as very skittish and very much OVERLY timid. We socialized her a great deal as a puppy, but it hasn't helped. She's okay around women, but the only men she likes are those who live with her. Despite her quirks, she is one of my best friends. She is certainly the best of us all in the family. And she is more beautiful than any other dog in the world!

Name withheld by request of Texas writes:

Beautiful, sweet, gentle soul, sensitive.
Smart, gentle, sweet-natured. Can't ask for a better dog. They are very sensitive little dogs and you must not be harsh in your tone with them. Quick to learn and easy to housebreak. Mine wasn't playful with toys but would rather go on walks and be by my side. The only downside is heavy shedding twice a year. I hear that some bark all the time, mine didn't. Great companion for calm, gentle people. It would be cruel to have them in a wild, rowdy home, they are too sweet and gentle.

Name withheld by request of Las Vegas, NV writes:

Very smart.
My Sheltie is six months old now. I've never owned a Sheltie before or trained a dog but he is so smart, he understands so much. People say Shelties are timid; mine isn't, he is very outgoing. I socialized him after his shots and he has bloomed ever since. He loves kids and loves to play. He will follow me around all day with a ball in his mouth. He has really added a lot to my family and we love him very much. of East Coast, USA writes:

Shelties are the most wonderful dogs in the world.
I have six Shelties, in all colors, and sizes and ages. I have had Shelties for sixteen years. They always feel that pleasing their Mom or Dad, is the most important thing in their world. Everything else comes second. Even chasing squirrels or eating some special tidbit. They will listen no matter what they are busy doing. All they want to do is the right thing, what you want, so as to please you. Sometimes they even guess what you want, and do it before you even ask! They do need to be socialized a lot though, when young, or you can get a very shy Sheltie. Take them everywhere right after they have had their shots. Another thing that is very important is to correct them when they bark more than a few times. They can easily learn the word "enough" and stop after just a few barks and a reminder that "that is enough!" If you don't correct them when puppies, you can get an extremely yappy adult dog. One that is hard to live with.
One very important thing to remember about Shelties is that they are very sensitive, and any mistreatment will never be forgotten. They will forgive you for anything, but will always remember that you got angry and not trust you as much as before. You can destroy a Sheltie with too much anger, or hitting them. A stern "no," and a frown are all they need most of the time. They are "SOFT" dogs, gentle dogs with more love in them than any other thing on this earth! of U.S.A. writes on 10/31/00:

The most devoted dog I know.
Hi, I am the proud owner of two shetland sheepdogs, called the Sheltie. I must tell you that they do require a lot of exercise, but make a wonderful dog to have in an apartment. I had each of them housebroken within two days. They are very eager to learn, and spend their time right by your side. I find they alert me if strangers are around, or someone comes to the door, but other than that, mine do not bark alot. I discouraged it from the beginning. THey are shedders, and require alot of brushing, but I think most dogs do. If you consider a Sheltie make sure you have the time for them, as they need their humans, and rely on your company. They also have alot of energy so make sure you have time for play. I find them extremely intelligent, and although I live in the country, and have neighbors that have other animals, I have never had to leash mine as they respond to voice command. I have been told they like to chase things, but mine care more about pleasing me it seems!! Well I love them dearly and I think they make wonderful pets. They are great with my cat and 10 yr old stepson, and 2 yr old grandson. IF you do get a Sheltie I think you will be pleased. I do also find them kind of babies, meaning they also rely heavily on alot of attention. Everywhere I go, they are right behind me! of Florida writes on 9/3/00:

Beautiful, bright, behaved and bonded!
Shelties are almost perfect. So lovable and loving. So trainable. So totally dedicated to their owner. They are safe with children. Their grooming needs are greater than some dogs because of the need to maintain their beautiful coats and get those ears to bend. But basically they are magnificent pets who enjoy working, travel, and fetch games. When trained properly from puppyhood, they are nearly flawless. They bond with other family pets. Even abused shelties can be rehabbed into the right environment. But shelties are companion dogs. Not yard dogs. They need to be in the house with their beloved family. of Grandview, Manitoba writes on 7/23/00:

If you need love and companionship there is nothing like a Shetland Sheepdog.
I'am not a breeder of the Shetland Sheepdog, I do not show Shetland Sheepdogs but I do live with one and she has brought joy, fun, love, and loyalty to my life. The Shetland Sheepdog is a kind and loving dog, their temperment is gentle and inquisative. They are also great watch dog's letting you know when anyone has arrived at your home. There is not a mean bone in the Shetland Sheepdog's body and they are so smart. They do shed and most have quite a heavy coat, but that, I feel is a small price to pay for all the other benifits of this breed. The Shetland Sheepdog or Sheltie as they are known,is a sensitive little dog, they will lay at your feet or go with you on your walks. They ask for nothing in return for your love except to love you back so fircely, so loyal that if the whole world loved like a Sheltie it would be a very beautiful place, this world. No I can not give you a long list of Champions, I can not reel off bloodlines I don't know how they are in a show ring. What I can tell you is that if you are looking for companionship, loyalty, love and a good friend get a Shetland Sheepdog, you won't regret it.

Name withheld by request of Flagstaff, AZ write son 2/29/00:

Sweet-natured, intelligent, eager to please.
The Sheltie is a very sweet natured, affectionate dog, they don't have a mean bone in their body. My Sheltie gets along with everyone, human or otherwise. He shares a home with two other dogs (a Dobie, and German Shepherd), 11 horses and a Llama, and he has never had problems with any of them. Usually when my Sheltie meets a stranger he will stay by my side at first and act sort of aloof or shy, however if the stranger just acknowleges hime softly he will soon be at their feet acting like a clown or leaning against them to be petted. When at home on the ranch, he helps me take care of the other animals, following me all around, I never need a leash, (I live on 40 acres). But when he is on a leash, such as when we are at a park or KOA campsite he does very well. Basically he ignores other people, pets or wildlife unless we are interacting with them. He is naturally well-mannered and very clean. It took me little more then a week to housebrake him, and even though he is a male, he
has never marked inside the house. He practically taught himself how to heel on and off the leash and he quickly learned (and preforms consistantly well) all the basic obedience commands (sit, stay, down,...) as well as many tricks including shake, roll over, and he does a perfect beg. He also loves attention. If I am reading or otherwise not paying attention to him he will sometimes come over, put a paw on my leg, and watch me until I pet him and tell him what a good boy he is, then, satisfied that I still love him, he will leave me to do what ever it was I was doing. Shelties are also not that difficult to groom. They need no clipping etc., just a thourough brushing about once a week to keep them mat free and healthy (as well as reduce the amount of fur on the carpet). The places that will mat most if you aren't careful include behind the ears and on the rear end. Though most people picture a sable color when they hear sheltie, they come in many other colors as well, including black and white (like my dog), tri-color, color headed white, and blue merle, all very pretty. I would reccomend this breed to someone looking for a dog that loves to learn and is sweet, mild-mannered, gentle, and maybe even a little shy. of Brenham, TX writes on 11/8/99:

A great dog for the family!
Having all types of breeds growing up, my wife and I decided on a Sheltie for our first dog. We fell in love with our first so we soon opted for a playmate for him. They both have adapted immeditatley to each other, us, and our large extended family. I would caution that you check out your breeder well. We had no problems with our first Sheltie, but the second has given us costly bills had we investigated our breeder more effectively we could have avoided. Still, our second, the bitch, has an infectous personality. One that is beyond reason, and a lover of all! Both dogs have been "kid handled" and passed the no biting test. With serveral nieces and nephews, that range form 2 to 10 in age, the dogs were outstanding! They do shed, but with little effort in grooming, they are beautiful show dogs. As for barking, ours have only notified us of guests and strange noises. What should a dog bark at? Each dog has its own personality; they are poles apart. The common thread is that they are loyal to their owners, and love affection and give affection readily. We will have more shelties, but we will adopt from our local rescue. Rescues are easy to find on the web, and I recommend this breed and the adaptablity of the rescued Sheltie!

Name withheld by request of Canada writees on 11/4/99:

A sophisticated but fun little sweetie.
Shelties are little ladies and little gentlemen of the dog world. They are beautiful, kind dogs, extremely willing to please, easy to housebreak and quick on the uptake. They do shed a good amount and need a detailed grooming, which includes ear training, trimming and very thorough brushing but the results are gorgeous to beyond. They are very good with children if they are exposed to them early and often. My sheltie was a great retriever, excelled at obedience and was a dignified companion. Some do bark a heck of a lot but it usually can be controlled or minimized by good training. One of the finest breeds around, but please be aware of genetic problems in the breed that include, eye, hip and skin conditions. of Sumner, WA writes on 10/20/99:

My obsession, but not for everyone.
I have had Shelties for 15 years, and between rescue, breeding (2 litters of three), showing and titling them in agility, obedience, herding, the breed ring, and having them hang around and be best friends and cuddle bugs, I can say that I would be hard pressed to change to a different breed. Shelties can be smart, or not so smart (smart usually prevails). They tend to learn very quickly, and have been known to develop bad habits due to boredom. This is not a breed to be left alone in the backyard for 10 hours a day while you work, as they will find something to do. Yes, they shed, yes they shed, yes they shed. They shed "differently" than short haired dogs, in that the hair sits on top of whatever is shed upon, instead of weaving itself in as short dog hair does. This makes it easy to vacuum, and easy to "roller" with a tape roller off of your clothes.
Shelties bark. Some a lot more than others, but it can be a problem. Debarking (or alter barking as it is sometimes referred to, because the vocal cords are not removed, but altered just a bit) is not an unheard of surgery for Shelties because of this. Whether the excessive barking is caused by poor ownership or an uncontrollable instinct dogs can always be argued. Regardless, it is something to consider when looking at a puppy or older rescue dog (often this tendency can be seen in puppies and avoided). Another issue is that Shelties, as most breeds, have hereditary health issues that MUST be addressed. *If* you get your dog from a breeder, be sure they produce current (within the last 24 months) CERF eye paperwork on both parents. Other tests are nice to have too (such as an OFA hip rating), but the eyes are a must. If they say they do not test because they do not have problems, or if they say they only test "random" dogs in the household, RUN the other way. They should not be breeding a dog they have not tested. I have tried to lay out the bad stuff first, so if you get this far, you get the good stuff!
Loyal to a fault, loving, bright, fun to train, adaptable, most really like kids, and if you are thinking of a Performance dog, they are tough to beat, as Shelties consistently place in the top rankings of agility, obedience, herding, and tracking. Another nice thing about Shelties is that they come in a variety of colors! Sable & White, Black and White, Blue Merle& White (some have tan also), Tri Color (Black Tan and white, the tan marking similar to what you see in a Doberman), and on occasion, some that are mostly White with other spots of color. NONE of these colors are RARE. If someone tries to sell you a "rare" color, leave, and go to another breeder. There is also no such thing as a "Miniature Sheltie". Some are small, some are tall, and a good breeder should be able to give you a ballpark adult height, because they measure their puppies every week, and follow a "Growth Chart". They should have one of these charts available for you to see. Don't forget Rescue Shelties! These are dogs that have been abandoned for a variety of reasons, most often having nothing to do with the dog in question, just poor ownership. These dogs get a second chance at life through rescue, and they do appreciate it! Many rescue Shelties have gone on to earn titles in herding , agility, obedience, and tracking! Others do what they are best at, and that is providing love to their family.
To find out more about all of the above, you can visit the home page of the American Shetland Sheepdog Association. It is very informative, and easy to navigate. They also offer breeder referrals and rescue referrals for your area. You can also visit the AKC (American Kennel Club, which is a registry) to find out more about shows in your area, where you can meet breeders and see the dogs that are in the ring. and of Rome, New York writes on 10/8/99:

Just the best
My first Sheltie saved my nephew from certain death. Even since that time I have loved the breed more and more. I have had two more Shelties and they just get better and better. The Sheltie will give you all the love and enjoyment anyone would want. They are just the best. of New Orleans, Louisiana write on 10/1/99:

Good-natured, intelligent, adaptable dog suitable for families
After having 5 Shetland Sheepdogs, over a period of almost 13 years, I can state that this breed is a great one for almost all families or singles looking for a good-natured pet.
1. Shelties are very intelligent, which means that they're easily trained and relate well to each individual in their family. They communicate easily with other dogs and humans, both verbally and nonverbally.
2. They are compact, which means that they do not require a large yard or consume huge amounts of food. They are easily transported because of their light weight and small stature.
3. They are beautiful, yet do not require huge amounts of grooming time, (unless they are being entered at dog shows). An occasional brushing, which they love, is all that's really required.
4. They are very clean; rarely, if ever, smelling "like a dog". This means bathing only every 2 to 4 months for dogs kept indoors.
5. They are protective little watchdogs. They will carefully guard their "flock" from predators or strangers. They will sometimes circle and herd groups of children to keep them organized!
6. They are adaptable: learning to live indoors, outdoors, swim in a pool, accept the new baby or puppy, live in an apartment or a huge house. We take them with us wherever we can on vacations.
7. They are very loyal and loving dogs, which means that your friends and family are their friends and family. They don't seem to bond with one family member over another, loving everyone equally.
The only negatives that need to be mentioned with Shelties are: 1. Barking: They can be very talkative: we refer to it as "sheltie talk". They bark to communicate and it might be perceived as a problem by some. and 2. Shedding: They shed their winter coats in the spring and shed their summer coats in the fall. The rest of the year, they shed very little, if at all, unlike many breeds that shed continuously all year.
We love them, currently have 2 shelties and have vowed to never be "Sheltieless" again.

Name withheld by request writes on 9/12/01:

Brains and beauty - irresistable.
My husband and two children (ages 3 and 4) and I adopted an 18 month old tri- color male Sheltie a few months ago and he has been the best dog I've ever had the joy to meet. Not only is he gentle and docile, he obeys each command given, even by my 3 year old. Every Sheltie I have the pleasure in knowing has been this way; sensitive, loving, gentle and obedient. They are also amazingly intelligent, ranking 6th out of 79 in the Dog Intelligence Test. It is not unusual for a Sheltie to grasp understanding of a command in less than a day's time.
Many presume Shelties to be heavy shedders- this is NOT true. If you comb your Sheltie each day for 20 minutes with an undercoat rake (less than $5 at any pet store )- NOT with a plain brush - he will hardly shed at all. My entire house is furnished in white sofas and white carpeting and the hair we have found on anything is minimal. The worst of the shedding occurs in the spring and fall, however if you groom him properly, almost all of the shedding will end up on the undercoat rake and not on your furnishings or clothing. As long as you keep up with grooming, there's no doggie odor, since you're removing the dead hairs and dander every day.
Shelties are not avid chewers. Because of this, owners need to pay special attention to their teeth, which can aquire tartar buildup easily if not brushed or taught to chew on rawhides or nylabones. Unfortuately, my Sheltie is very mouth sensitive, and we will have to take her to the vet for a professional teeth cleaning next month. He won't let me near his mouth; but he's never growled or bitten in showing me this, only turned his head and tucked it under himself.
Most Shelties get along famously with childen and protect them with all that they can. Recently my mother came to visit, and had not yet had the pleasure to meet our new dog. When she entered, she immediately swooped up my youngest son and "Ranger" went into 'bodyguard' mode- barking and circling her until I told him that it was ok, that my son was not being harmed. Shelties are not only protective of "their" kids; they typically behave this way with youngsters that don't even belong to them as well! Shelties seem to have a special patience when it comes to little ones; and unlike other dogs, if he gets uncomfortable with too much attention from the kids, he won't growl or snap, but rather go get 'mom' or 'dad' and cuddle with a grown up for awhile or just find a small spot to escape to for some quiet time. Don't be surprised if your Sheltie tries to 'round up' the kids when they are out in the yard, either. Sheep herding is in their blood and it's actually helpful in trying to get the children to end their game of tag and come eat dinner. 'Rounding up' is characterized by some nipping at the ankles and sharp barks as he races back and forth either behind or in front of his 'herd'; don't worry, he's not going nutty on you and he isn't trying to bite. He's just being a Sheltie.
Shelties are typically submissive dogs. They are extremely sensitive to the tone of your voice and body language. However, even when intimidated they usually maintain their obedience. Even though my dog is scared to death of baths and would love to run and hide under the bed when he hears the dreaded word 'b-a-t-h', he will stop and stay without my having to raise my voice to him. This is typical of Shelties; they are not run away and hide dogs- they would rather face whatever it is silently and with dignity.
These are loyal, loving and bright dogs. The perfect combination of beauty and brains, and epitomize what I consider a 'good dog.'

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